“We want to give re-birth to people. We are in the community providing training, job prep, interview skills and life skills for the business world. We want to give people a future, even as adults,” said Ms. Pulliam, director and president, Payne-Pulliam School of Trade and Commerce.

Detroit’s Payne-Pulliam School of Trade and Commerce is a nonprofit school helping job seekers learn critical life skills from literacy and GED completion to business and technology training, and many others in between. The school has served more than 40,000 students over the past 45 years and has conducted classes since 1976 – in a building that’s now nearly 80 years old. However over time, the historic structure deteriorated to the point that it required a new roof and façade to continue its mission. That’s when Pulliam turned to Tony Tomczak, vice president, corporate services and chief procurement officer, DTE Energy, and board member at Payne-Pulliam for help.

Payne-Pulliam before and after

“One of our goals is to have this building become a shared office space for entrepreneurs that need a place to have a desk, computer, internet and other needs. We are also looking to launch a STEM program for young adults and to begin an IT program. Naturally, the building’s exterior impacts who is attracted to our space and that’s why we requested DTE’s support in renovating it,” said Pulliam.

Tomczak reached out to DTE’s wide supplier network and secured a partnership with DTE supplier NTH Consultants to do a pro-bono assessment of what was needed to bring the building up to code. DTE also contacted construction suppliers Roncelli and LS Brinker to perform the services needed, while Barton Malow and the DTE Foundation funded the balance of the cost.

“I’ve been involved with The Payne-Pulliam School for 10 years now. When they asked for a hand in updating the building, it was an easy decision. Not only does the school help adults learn critical skills, but updating the building beautifies the area and ultimately makes the neighborhood more inviting. This has been a long time in the making, and we are excited to see the finished results,” said Tomczak.  

DTE also dedicated a construction manager and safety team to the project to ensure the work was done safely and effectively.

“Education is a major focus for the DTE Foundation because we know when our students – of all ages – thrive, so do our communities” said Lynette Dowler, executive director and president, DTE Foundation. “A GED earned and new business skills learned at the Payne-Pulliam School will make positive, lasting differences in the lives of people and families across Detroit and beyond. This real-world education will also continue to impact our city for generations to come and we’re humbled to have played a role in enabling it.”

Learn more from Betty Pulliam.